Where “Life Is Too Short” Flashed Before My Eyes 

By Justin Oppong '22

“Life is too short; you only live once” is one of the most used phrases I’ve heard for years. On July 15th, 2021, at 8:35 p.m., I realized it was indeed true. This story started on June 8th, the day of my driving test. I passed and was so excited to be able to go anywhere I wanted at any time. My parents would tell me to “drive safe, and don’t speed.” I would throw that right out the window, eating gas and pushing 70 mph everywhere with “phew, close one” moments. 

Fast forward to July 14th. My senior football team and I went on a team bonding with an ex-US sniper (Chris) in the woods. Given a paper of instructions, we were only allowed to bring a limited amount of clothes, water, and a sleeping bag. At 5 a.m. we boarded a bus and set off to North Jersey. Since it was a three-hour ride, I fell asleep to then be awoken by Chris and his soldier buddies telling us to make our way into the woods/mountains. Throughout the day, we did various activities,  some of which my team won. Until dark, we were instructed to build our fire and tents to fit five out of what was around, keeping watch throughout the night. Since we weren’t tired, I decided to watch over the whole night, only getting sleep for ten minutes (a key factor in what was to come).  At 2 a.m. we were awoken by gunshots and instructed that we would be climbing a mountain in three hours using a compass and map. There were 17 of us plus three coaches, all on a mission to make it up, till a classmate rolled an ankle. It not only dragged us down, but it made the climb ten times longer than it should have been, but we managed to make it on time. The view was amazing. There was a temple at the top that stood above the clouds overlooking the various towns below. Chris gave us a life lesson about teamwork, and then we made our way down and headed home. 

On this same day, Coach gave us the option to play in the 7v7 game that evening or go home and rest after a long day. The seniors made the decision to fight through the triteness and play. We won, and Coach explained that “This class deserves respect with the performers today since they just went through hell just a few hours ago.” At 7 p.m. to celebrate the win, the team planned to eat at Chick-fil-A. Since I was one of the few with a license, I went home, dropped my things, and headed out. Right before leaving, I asked my parents if I could go. “No, you were out for two days, for what?” my mother said. Upset with that response, I asked my dad. He was cool with it and let me go. I picked up my friend and headed to Chick-fil-A.  At about 8:34, we were down the street approaching the Chick-fil-A that was just a turn away. We came upon a street given the right away to turn but yellow. I decided to take it with another car coming at about 50 mph. “Justin, what the–” were the last words I heard, hitting the car and sliding into a light pole. My mind was everywhere; “What is my mom gonna say?” was first, but most importantly, I almost lost my life and the lives of my friends who put their lives in my hands.

This day scared me greatly. I have been only motivated by football, but also the will to make my family proud by earning a scholarship for school. My parents would tell me it was my fault, or maybe I was tired. I question that day also, what if I stayed home? Why didn’t I listen? Was I ready to meet my maker? Was it my fault?